An Abel Ruiz brace had fired the Spaniards to a 2-0 lead in the first-half and the Africans threw the kitchen sink in the second half as they attempted to find a way back into the tie.
The African champions had reasons to feel aggrieved when in the 61st minute midfielder Chieck Doucoure’s powerful long-range shot found its way past Spanish goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez but the referee failed to call the goal despite the ball clearly crossing over the line.
With goal-line technology and VAR not available for the tournament, the runners-up of the last edition were left licking their wounds as the referee refused to change his mind despite their protests.
The Mali bench was up in unison against the perceived injustice with one of the players even mocking the official for being blind.
The team’s assistance coach was promptly showed a yellow card by the fourth official for his protests as the game took on an ugly turn.
With such a huge controversy marring such an important game, it does raise questions of FIFA as to why goal-line technology or VAR was not made available for the tournament.
The game eventually finished 3-1 in the favour of the Europeans with Mali’s hopes of bettering their last performance getting dealt a crushing blow.
Former India skipper Biachung Bhutia criticised the global governing body for not having video-technology in place for such a prestigious event. "Its disappointing to see FIFA not having video technology for the U17 World Cup," Bhutia lamented.
Former Manchester United and Everton manager David Moyes also expressed surprise that the technology was not present for the all-important semi-final. "At the World Cup, you expect it be there (Video techonology)," Moyes quipped.